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Lost enlightenment: Central Asia's golden age from the Arab conquest to Tamerlane

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Abstract

In this sweeping and richly illustrated history, S. Frederick Starr tells the fascinating but largely unknown story of Central Asia's medieval enlightenment through the eventful lives and astonishing accomplishments of its greatest minds--remarkable figures who built a bridge to the modern world. Because nearly all of these figures wrote in Arabic, they were long assumed to have been Arabs. In fact, they were from Central Asia--drawn from the Persianate and Turkic peoples of a region that today extends from Kazakhstan southward through Afghanistan, and from the easternmost province of Iran through Xinjiang, China. Lost Enlightenment recounts how, between the years 800 and 1200, Central Asia led the world in trade and economic development, the size and sophistication of its cities, the refinement of its arts, and, above all, in the advancement of knowledge in many fields. Central Asians achieved signal breakthroughs in astronomy, mathematics, geology, medicine, chemistry, music, social science, philosophy, and theology, among other subjects. They gave algebra its name, calculated the earth's diameter with unprecedented precision, wrote the books that later defined European medicine, and penned some of the world's greatest poetry. One scholar, working in Afghanistan, even predicted the existence of North and South America--five centuries before Columbus. Rarely in history has a more impressive group of polymaths appeared at one place and time. No wonder that their writings influenced European culture from the time of St. Thomas Aquinas down to the scientific revolution, and had a similarly deep impact in India and much of Asia. Lost Enlightenment chronicles this forgotten age of achievement, seeks to explain its rise, and explores the competing theories about the cause of its eventual demise. Informed by the latest scholarship yet written in a lively and accessible style, this is a book that will surprise general readers and specialists alike.

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... Indeed Iran has a long tradition of pioneering thought on individual human capital and development that goes back to the Western and Central Asian intellectual Golden Age of a millennium ago. There existed hundreds of learned people such as Ibn Sina and Abu Rayhan al-Biruni --pre-enlightenment thinkers who seeded modern medicine, astronomy, and anthropology through systems of reason, and wide peer review, notably outside of the control of governments and the nobility (Starr, 2015). Science, entrepreneurship and innovation flourished during that time and maintains a long tradition in Central Asia in spite of political upheaval and economic shocks. ...
... number of great innovators and scientists also worked there in the centuries before the Industrial Revolution. Many instances of learned interchanges among Central Asian Kingdoms can be found starting at the end of the first millenium (Starr, 2015). Across Central Asia there existed hundreds of learned people who delighted in discussions such as those between Ibn Sina and Al-Biruni, and who expected them to be resolved, on the basis of reason and discussion. ...
... The interviewees emphasized that although Iran and other Central Asian economies are not traditionally individualistic, like in Singapore, the government and cultural industries can encourage and validate entrepreneurial activities and emphasize the virtues of an efficient and growing economy. They felt both the government and other authorities could do more in these areas through promotion and education, though they agreed that this was happening slowly as Iran has only gradually been rediscovering its "human capital roots" from Central Asia's golden age of a millennium ago (Starr, 2015). ...
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... The Arabs invaded Transoxania between 650 and 760 CE and consolidated control after defeating the Chinese Tang armies in the battle of Talas near the city of Taraz in 751 CE (15). The region flourished throughout the Medieval Period and was a center of the Early Medieval Islamic renaissance (16). A pivotal moment in world history took place in 1218 CE at the city of Otr ar. ...
... The Mongol invasion and destruction of Otr ar in 1219 CE, however, came after more than 200 y of reducing rainfall, with evidence of large-scale canal abandonment. With hydrological stress continuing at least until the 14th century CE, as well the scale of destruction and loss of life following the fall of Otr ar (16), it was hardly surprising that recovery took between 100 and 150 y and was on a much more limited scale. The great rivers of Central Asia it seems were not just static stage sets on which some of the turning points of world history were played out, but in many instances inadvertently or directly shaped the final outcomes and legacies of imperial ambitions in the region. ...
Article
The Aral Sea basin in Central Asia and its major rivers, the Amu Darya and Syr Darya, were the center of advanced river civilizations, and a principal hub of the Silk Roads over a period of more than 2,000 y. The region’s decline has been traditionally attributed to the devastating Mongol invasion of the early-13th century CE. However, the role of changing hydroclimatic conditions on the development of these culturally influential potamic societies has not been the subject of modern geoarchaeological investigations. In this paper we report the findings of an interdisciplinary investigation of archaeological sites and associated irrigation canals of the Otrār oasis, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site located at the confluence of the Syr Darya and Arys rivers in southern Kazakhstan. This includes radiometric dating of irrigation canal abandonment and an investigation of Arys river channel dynamics. Major phases of fluvial aggradation, between the seventh and early ninth century CE and between 1350 and 1550 CE coincide with economic flourishing of the oasis, facilitated by wet climatic conditions and higher river flows that favored floodwater farming. Periods of abandonment of the irrigation network and cultural decline primarily correlate with fluvial entrenchment during periods of drought, instead of being related to destructive invasions. Therefore, it seems the great rivers of Central Asia were not just static “stage sets” for some of the turning points of world history, but in many instances, inadvertently or directly shaped the final outcomes and legacies of imperial ambitions in the region.
... Kashgar is the westernmost city of China, described as " the heart of one of the most lovely and bountiful oases in all Central Asia (Starr, 2013, 307). " The historical urban fabric in Kashgar is " the best-preserved example of a traditional Islamic city to be found anywhere in Central Asia (Michell et al, 2008, 79). ...
Research
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... Moreover, during this Enlightenment, the development of scientific knowledge in Central Asia flourished. Not only were they advanced in astronomy, geology, and medicine, but they also wrote the first book of algebra, which gave its name to the field (Starr 2013). ...
Book
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From East to West, the economies of Europe and Central Asia (ECA) are not taking full advantage of the internet to foster economic growth and job creation. The residents of Central Asia and the South Caucasus pay some of the highest prices in the world for internet connections that are slow and unreliable. In contrast, Europe enjoys some of the world’s fastest and affordable internet services. However, its firms and individuals are not fully exploiting the internet to achieve higher productivity growth as well as more and better jobs. Reaping Digital Dividends investigates the barriers that are holding back the broader adoption of the internet in ECA. The report identifies the main bottlenecks and provides policy recommendations tailored to economies at varying levels of digital development. It concludes that policies to increase internet access are necessary but not sufficient. Policies to foster competition, international trade and skills supply, as well as adapting regulations to the changing business environment and labor markets, will also be necessary. In other words, Reaping Digital Dividends not only requires better connectivity, but also complementary factors that allow governments, firms and individuals to make the most out of it.
... As a united region, the argument goes, Central Asia was prosperous and made important contributions to global scientific, political, cultural, and industrial processes. Hence, restoring Central Asian unity will enable the region to once again become an important player in global trade and economic exchanges (Canfield 1992;Starr 2013). ...
Conference Paper
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The first term of Shavkat Mirziyoyev, successor to Islam Karimov as president of Uzbekistan, has brought some liberal reforms to the domestic politics of Uzbekistan and also opened the country to higher levels of cooperation with its neighbours. Mirzoyev’s proactive position towards strengthening cooperation in Central Asia and support of other regional states has since 2017 attracted the interest of scholars to the dynamics of regionalization in Central Asia (CA). The consultative meetings among CA leaders, cooperation among their governments’ strategic think tanks, and official discussions on mutual visa recognition between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are all evidence of increased collaboration in the region. Experts and journalists in the region have started to talk about regional integration in Central Asia and the possibilities for establishing a regional organization. Although the progress in cooperation has been significant, we argue that it’s not feasible and not necessary to create regional organizations at this stage, and suggest soft institutionalism as a possible way of strengthening relations in CA. Pursuing regional integration in CA that necessitates hard institutionalism (e.g., EU, EAEU) may result in ink-on-paper initiatives. It may also activate strategic rivalry among external actors for influence in the region, as it would require re-negotiation of commitments from CA states that are members of other organizations. Soft institutionalism (e.g., ASEAN) is more appropriate, as it may lead to the strengthening of collaboration without renegotiating existing commitments, while also avoiding unnecessary institutional burdens. Soft institutionalism or soft regionalism (the terms are used interchangeably here) is based on informality, pragmatism, nonconfrontational bargaining, and consensus building (Acharya, 1997, 2009; Söderbaum, 2016; ZHAO, 1998). Hard regionalism relies on formal structures, delegating of power to supranational bodies, and legal agreements (T. A. Börzel, 2016; Söderbaum, 2016; ZHAO, 1998). When compared to the EU, which is a model of hard regionalism, Central Asian regionalism is a failed project. Its revival and future success are often associated with the ability to build formal structures and institutions. The EU model is often proposed as a benchmark for regionalism in CA (Tolipov, 2017). However, we argue that given the empirical reality of domestic and international relations in CA, the soft form of regionalism is a more viable alternative at this stage. Two main research questions addressed in this paper are: (1) Why do we need a new debate on Central Asian regionalism? (2) What kind of regionalism project is viable for CA?
... As a united region, the argument goes, Central Asia was prosperous and made important contributions to global scientific, political, cultural, and industrial processes. Hence, restoring Central Asian unity will enable the region to once again become an important player in global trade and economic exchanges (Canfield 1992;Starr 2013). ...
... At the celebrations of the 29th anniversary of Independence Day of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan said: "In a time when the glorious power of our people is in full swing, a new awakening is being laid in Uzbekistan -the foundation for the Third Renaissance" [10]. Doubtless, the Third Renaissance will be a light example of the progress of science and economics in our country, and surely it will be a bright demonstration of all achievements accomplished with good intentions as serving the people and to please people, the intellect of our people and our young generation, of the power of talent [11]. ...
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This research paper is devoted to the issue of applying science in building the foundation of the Third Renaissance in Uzbekistan with a focus on developed science fields in Central Asia during the First and Second Renaissances. In this research, the recent legislative and scientific activities in Uzbekistan were studied and the previous work performed in the field of science in the past years was summarized as a basis for writing this paper.
... The food production systems of medieval Central Asia were supported by sophisticated irrigation technology as well as extensive rainfed farming and livestock management that, together, generated a diverse and plentiful supply of crops and animal products to both urban and nomadic realms [11][12][13][14][15] . Ancient texts of Chinese and Arab geographers describe lush Central Asian oases where wheat, barley, millet, rice, peas, chickpeas, lentils, melons, and cotton were cultivated, in addition to gardens, vineyards, and orchards of fruit and nut trees 1,16,17 . Incidental recovery of carbonized botanical remains from archaeological sites and ubiquity of agricultural artefacts confirm these cultigens were grown and processed throughout the region [18][19][20][21][22][23][24] . ...
... It is as if there is an impermeable membrane preventing information about the fate of the borrowed practices when they reach the site of adoption and implementation. Yet we know that ideas as well as goods flowed in both directions on the Silk Routes -an enduring example of policy mobility (Millward, 2013;Starr, 2013) -and that the medicinal value of plants gathered in new lands improved the lives of the colonizing and imperial nations' citizenry (Adelman, 2015). ...
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The ways information about national education policies is exchanged and interpreted is a field of comparative education that is under-developed. What discussion and analysis there is seems to ignore the insights and models prevalent in other domains. We looked to fields like political science, and economic and social development for concepts to strengthen the analysis of education policy mobility between nations. We found an abundance of metaphors most of which fail to capture key elements of policy diffusion including the notion that ideas change as they cross cultural boundaries. We observe that policy transfer can be purposefully initiated by the host as well as a product of coercion or external incentives. Our principal conclusions are that common framings of traveling education policies are linear, one-directional and marked by an air of beneficence. They overlook the importance of context and the actions of sovereign nations in policy formation.
... The notion of progress -the continuous unfolding of improvement in society -was embedded in Greek philosophy, which influenced the Enlightenment philosophy. An alternative enlightenment took place earlier in the Islamic world between 800 and 1200 (Starr, 2013) which did not endure. Sociology as a discipline was born in the context of the discourse over social progress when European society was exposed to changes induced by industrialization of the nineteenth century. ...
... Medieval times were a truly golden age for the Turkic-speaking nomadic and non-coastal nations that had inhabited the Central Asian region for millennia. This period of prosperity resulted in great achievements in sciences, astronomy, philosophy, military art, medicine, postal service technology, monetary politics and merchant businesses and in many other areas (Lombard 1975;Conrad 2012;Starr 2013), enriching both Asian and European civilizations and contributing greatly to the dialogue of cultures and religions. The Great Silk Road is a poster child of this era. ...
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Examining Kazakhstan's foreign policy through the lens of its position as the largest landlocked, and transcontinental, country in the world, the paper presents a multidimensional analysis of the unique soft power strategy adopted recently by this nation in promoting its various international initiatives in its region. In doing so, the paper attempts to understand the implications of Kazakhstan's distinctive geopolitical setting at the heart of Eurasia for regional integration and security-building initiatives that have been proposed and actively supported by this transitional nation. The paper focuses on investigating key political and socioeconomic aspects of the country's location at the intersection of Europe and Asia and analyses whether a symbiotic relationship exists between Kazakhstan's multi-vectored foreign policy and the wide range of its international initiatives aiming to promote economic development, partnership and peaceful coexistence between various nations in the region. The key findings and generalizations of the research will facilitate better understanding of the implications of landlocked geography for the direction of foreign policy, using concrete examples and manifestations of political decisions made in the area.
... Vgl. die faszinierenden Arbeiten von al-Ma'arri, al-Razi und Ibn Zuhr ("Avenzoar") im 10. und 11. Jahrhundert oder Ibn-Ruschd ("Averroës") im 12. Jahrhundert(Abdel-Halim, 2011;al-Ma'arri, 2002;Starr 2013). ...
... (See the many volumes of Science and Civilisation in China; also Elman 2005Elman , 2006.) Similarly, the Muslim world had a brilliant scientific tradition that anticipated much of Europe's later revolution (see Beckwith 2013;Starr 2013), but it collapsed in the Turkic and Mongol wars of the 1200s. Wootton does not discuss these cases, but he gives us the best explanation to date of why and how the West developed as it did, rapidly surpassing these others. ...
... 6 Arguably, for many centuries, these concepts might have been instrumental in driving creativity and innovation in the Muslim world (Faruq 2006;Zarif et al. 2013). The historical accounts of the 'Golden Age' (eighth to fourteenth centuries) suggest that advancements in Islamic thought and theology went hand in hand with greater technological, urban, economic, and scientific progress (Khan 2006;Starr 2013). To date, scholars have long emphasised that a perception that Sharia is a fixed and complete written legal document that provides all (comprehensive) answers (about how Muslims should live) is far detached from reality (Daniels 2017;Hefner 2016). ...
Article
To what extent does openness to new ideas and creativity (ONIC) help explain the elite-challenging collective mobilisation in the Muslim world? Are religious Muslims who are open to creative and innovative thinking more or less likely to engage in pro-democratic collective action? Analysing 16 Muslim-majority countries, this study advances the debate of Muslim contentious politics by systematically examining the extent to which ONIC explains the variation in high-risk, pro-democratic collective mobilisation. A quad-dimensional analysis of creativity indicates that ONIC is an empirically distinctive measure to capture openness and creative thinking. The evidence further suggests that, ceteris paribus, Islamic religiosity and ONIC are not mutually exclusive and that both are positively associated with collective protests. Notably, ONIC does appear to intervene to mediate the positive relationship between Islam and engagement in high-risk collective action, implying that the effects of religiosity may not be independent from how Muslims position themselves towards being open to novel ideas or creativity. The findings also demonstrate that an individual-level ONIC may be boosting the likelihood of protest engagement among more devout individuals in Islamic societies.
... As a result, the empire rapidly splintered and four capitals formed: Kashgar, Samarkand, Uzgen, and Balasagun. According to Starr (2013), this increasing expansiveness and decentralization was the Achilles' heel of the Qarakhanids. ...
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The urban center of Paykend was an exchange node just off the main corridor of the Silk Road in the Bukhara Oasis on the edge of the hyperarid Kyzyl–Kum Desert. The city was occupied from the end of 4 century B.C.E. to the mid–12 century C.E.; our study focuses on the Qarakhanid period (C.E. 999 – 1211), the last imperial phase of urban occupation at Paykend before its abandonment. In this study, we present the results of an analysis of archaeobotanical remains recovered from a multifunction rabat, which appears to have comprised a domicile, military structure, center of commerce, and/or a caravanserai, a roadside inn for travelers. We shed light on how people adapted a productive economy to the local ecological constraints. By adding these data to the limited Qarakhanid archaeobotany from across Central Asia, we provide the first glimpses into cultivation, commerce, and consumption at a Silk Road trading town along the King’s Road, the central artery of ancient Eurasia.
... This was followed by a more systematic translation of the Classical Greek. Encounters with ancient Persian, Greek and, most significantly, the wisdom traditions of the Silk Road further nourished the educationally receptive Muslim imagination (Pickett, 2020;Starr, 2013). ...
Chapter
This inquiry examines how the love of learning, embodying the transformative educational vision of Islam (tarbiyah), emerged as the humanizing pedagogic vocation within classical Islamic higher education. There is a large body of literature exploring philosophical, literary, theological, mystical and aesthetic perceptions of love in the Muslim tradition. Classical Islamic scholarship has attracted the attention of Western historians of Islam. These studies, however, are limited to providing descriptive accounts of medieval Islamic knowledge systems and institutions. They do not offer an educational reading (hermeneutics) of the Muslim intellectual heritage. The love of learning as a central pedagogical value in classical Muslim higher education has not been subject to systematic inquiry. The study aims to fill this gap within the emerging field of critical Islamic Education Studies and contribute to the interdisciplinary comparative research on values in higher education. The ‘crisis of legitimacy’ facing the modern university is traced to the commodification of its educational good within the economic priorities of neoliberalism and privileging the pedagogy of scientism. The inquiry argues that the love of learning in the Muslim tradition springs from the distinctive image of God in the Qur’an as the loving, compassionate educator (al-Rabb/al-Waduud) and its transformative pedagogies of self-cultivation. The study considers critically whether the love of learning in Islam can accommodate ambiguity, questioning, and critical faithfulness. Keywords Values and Higher Education Love of Learning Islamic Education Studies Qur’an and Human Development Critical Faithfulness Decolonizing University Madrasah Tarbiyah.
... From 778 AH / 1377 AD to his death in 807 AH / 1405 AD, Timur ruled a large part of the world for 29 years. Timur emerged during the turbulence, weakness, and disintegration of the Islamic lands, the lack of a strong and centralized government, and the growth of the local weak governments (Starr, 2013). ...
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Features of Persian art including meticulous designs, great complexity, and the romantic and heroic stories illustrated in the paintings in the 15th century underwent drastic changes in Herat. One of the most distinctive features of the Herat School was its continual use of various decorative motifs in painting. The Herat style in Persian art emerged with the Timurids under the patronage of Shah Rukh who contributed remarkably to social and cultural developments in Iran. By delving deeply into the works of the early centuries of Islam to the present, one can perceive that it is the “ornament” that is of a special position in the Herat School of Islamic art as the most important school in the Timurid Dynasty and Persian painting history, for the development of forms andcolorss in Persian forms with Chinese influence in the Mongol Dynasty. The objectives of this research include analyzing Islamic motifs in Persian painting, studying thand Persian painting schools to examine the causes of the creation of the Islamic art motifs in the Herat School of Painting. The researcher analyzed five paintings from Shahnameh-y-Baysonquri by using Panofsky’s theory about iconography and iconology theoretical foundations of Islamic motifs y to interpret Islamic motifs used in the Herat School of Painting. The researcher found affective factors in the Herat School for abstractive motifs and explained their meaning. The research adopts a qualitative based on library research using journals articles, art, and art history books. Persian painters in the Timurid Dynasty used arabesque, geometric and Khataee motifs as decorations. Iranian painters created movement, rhythm, emotion, spac,e and the relationship between them using arabesque shapes to represent the beauty of objects that is inherent to the beauty of God. The principle of monotheism is the most significant codification of the abstract geometric, Eslim,ee and Khataee decorative designs and Islamic thought influenced Iranian painting significantly.
... As a result, several scholars developed the concept of "Turko-Persia" to give a greater sense of the heterogeneity of languages and cultures in this arena (Djalili et al., 2008). In turn, however, such an approach fails to grant sufficient significance to the role-played by Arabic texts and knowledge across this region, as well as to the capacity of the region's scholars to contribute to intellectual debate within and beyond the region through their use of Arabic (e.g., Starr, 2015). In other words, a model that localizes the region by insisting on the use of a single aspect of culture, society, or politics as a defining factor in its definition-be this a language such as Persian, a religious tradition such as Islam, or a mode of organizing society-inevitably runs into conceptual difficulties and ultimately excludes or peripheralizes particular communities, cultural dynamics, or histories in relationship to hierarchies constructed by scholarship. ...
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The ancient 'Silk Roads' formed a vast network of trade and exchange that facilitated the movement of commodities and agricultural products across medieval Central Asia via settled urban communities and mobile pastoralists. Considering food consumption patterns as an expression of socio-economic interaction, we analyse human remains for carbon and nitrogen isotopes in order to establish dietary intake, then model isotopic niches to characterize dietary diversity and infer connectivity among communities of urbanites and nomadic pastoralists. The combination of low isotopic variation visible within urban groups with isotopic distinction between urban communities irrespective of local environmental conditions strongly suggests localized food production systems provided primary subsistence rather than agricultural goods exchanged along trade routes. Nomadic communities, in contrast, experienced higher dietary diversity reflecting engagements with a wide assortment of foodstuffs typical for mobile communities. These data indicate tightly bound social connectivity in urban centres pointedly funnelled local food products and homogenized dietary intake within settled communities, whereas open and opportunistic systems of food production and circulation were possible through more mobile lifeways.
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During the Medieval period Europe was highly fragmented and heavily militarized. Conflict was ongoing. Still commerce thrived, particularly after 1000 CE. Why? The main reason is the relative peace accorded to cities. Remarkably few cities were besieged. Why? The main reason is three powerful actors-feudal lords and heads of manorial estates; the church, both in its secular arm and in its monasteries; and dynasties attempting to aggrandize their territorial reach-all benefited from the rents that they could extract from the commerce carried on by urban denizens. In competing for the rents they were also competing for power, particularly but not exclusively military power bought and sold on the market. Employing a data base consisting of 415 battles and sieges taking place during the Medieval Period, this paper explores a remarkable paradox: both commerce and conflict, de facto opposites, thrived because of each other, not despite each other. 3
Chapter
This chapter focuses on CA’s economic evolution from the migration of the peoples to the pinnacle of nomadic power. The region initially re-stabilized under the Turkic Empire, whose Sogdian merchants reanimated transcontinental trade. Tang China, the caliphate, and partly Khazaria shared in the second apex of the SR from the late seventh to the late ninth century. Chinese know-how (silk production, papermaking, and the compass) were transferred westward in this time. Notwithstanding weaker international trade following the caliphate’s demise, C Asian intellectual and cultural achievement in the early second millennium CE boasted world renown. While the Mongol conquest of CA and of most of Eurasia brought unprecedented destruction and bloodshed, this was followed by the third heyday of the SR (second half of the thirteenth and first half of the fourteenth centuries): Security was strictly upheld, and trade encouraged on a giant bicontinental and politically integrated playing field (Pax Mongolica). In this sense, the Mongol Empire may have been a driving force of early globalization. Paper money, playing cards, engraving printing, gunpowder, the abacus, and other inventions spread along the Mongol SR. Gathering political instability, imperial disintegration, and the “Black Death”—a second demographic catastrophe—hailed the collapse of Mongol rule and the renewed shrinkage of SR trade.
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Here we report the results of an archaeobotanical study carried out on Ceramic Neolithic (2700–2000 bc) and Kushan period (ad 100–300) deposits at Kanispur, Kashmir, northern India. Botanical evidence from the Ceramic Neolithic phase reflects a nascent agriculture based on cold-tolerant crops (barley, wheats, lentil, field pea and grass pea) related to farming patterns of adjacent cultures and possibly evidence for the earliest cultivation in the valley. The Kushan period is characterized by a double-cropping pattern, suggesting a change in agricultural practices associated with a population recovery following a post-Neolithic decline. Finds of Juglans regia, and Prunus cf. amygdalus shells in ceramic Neolithic levels, and Vitis cf. vinifera, Emblica officinalis and Ziziphus cf. nummularia in addition to J. regia, and P. cf. amygdalus during Kushan times suggest that horticulture and foraging played an important role in the diet of the occupants. The present dataset provides new absolute dates for the subsistence economy of the Ceramic Neolithic population in the Kashmir Valley. We also present the oldest directly dated wheat and barley in Kashmir.
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The essay attempts to develop categories for a global intellectual history that can deal with both temporal and spatial long distances. It is based on the observation that, in the case of long distances in the pre-modern period, incorrect references have often been made, since there was still insufficient information to ensure the correct “reach” of the reference. Therefore the essay develops a kind of reference theory of pre-modern global reaching out and shows how a global intellectual history can be designed from there, which is underpinned with concrete contexts. Non-Eurocentric narratives and a sense of the entanglement of ideas are essential to such a history.
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Background: The interest in the topic of academic research has drawn much attention in the last two decades especially in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region; though this region has undergone violence, and many wars that have led to the loss of lives of hundreds of thousands, many within the university age category. However, whenever events calm down, universities become crowded with individuals seeking both quality education and research competencies. This is the case reflected in Lebanon as well as the Islamic Republic of Iran (Iran), for both have somehow parallel tracks where unrest, wars, and conflicts have left their toll on the population and the youth in specific. Nevertheless, both nations have shown perseverance, self-determination and strong national pride in overcoming the aggressive eco-system surrounding them as they seek continuous progress, improvement, giving special attention to higher education and academic research in particular. Although Iran has been subject to severe sanctions that have affected the full potential of its economy, the strategic agenda to seek world quality higher education and produce research of national benefit has grown exponentially in the last decade. Similarly, Lebanon, which has been subject to tremendous pressures from the surrounding war-zone countries, found its way to improve its performance in higher education and research. Objective: This paper aims at exposing the different factors that may contribute to the fostering of the academic and research relationship between Lebanon and Iran. Methodology: The analysis relies on collected data from secondary sources as well as primary data based on interviews with academics and experts from both countries; therefore, this research is exploratory, explanatory and qualitative. Results: There exists enough evidence to support the collaboration initiative. Interviewees from both countries showed enthusiasm, openness and readiness to move to the second level of cooperation that is, justifying relationships with memos of understanding. Conclusions: The outcomes of the research shed light on the shared interests pertaining to higher education and research collaboration opportunities between the two countries. Moreover, results support the intended policies that aim to regulate the future relationships.
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A brief description of International Aerospace School (IASS) is given.
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De Tray considers the role of outsiders in postconflict reconstruction and development in Iraq in 2008. The coalition in Iraq attempted state building in a couple of years that development experts recognize takes decades and must be undertaken from within a society. The Provincial Reconstruction Teams, focused on using local governance and development projects to build links between people and government, were seen by Iraqis as foreign occupiers. US efforts were hindered since government experts avoided working in Iraq because of harsh living conditions, and contractors with inappropriate backgrounds were hired. The military, eager to deliver visible results, often bypassed the Iraqi government. Working with local governments—districts, towns, and communities—offers the best chance to strengthen people’s ties with their own government.
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Scholarly investigations of the formative stages of the madhāhib (schools of law) have generated several interpretations but few substantive studies. One of the underlying assumptions of madhhab scholarship is that personal schools grew out of regional schools. In this essay, I (1) challenge the notion of regional schools, suggesting that greater attention should be paid to circles of masters and their disciples; (2) survey the scholarship that has dealt with the formation of Hanbalism, with special attention to Ibn Hanbal and his followers; and (3) examine how the Hanbalī moral outlook contributed to the growth of the Hanbalī circle and discuss the influence of this moral outlook on the internal dynamics of the circle.
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The Mughal literary culture has been noted for its notable achievements in poetry and a wide range of prose writings in Persian. In terms of profusion and variety of themes this literary output was also perhaps incomparable. The court's patronage has rightly been suggested as an important reason for this. This patronage, however, was not consistent throughout; much of the detail of its detour thus requires a closer scrutiny. The phenomenal rise of the language defies explanation in the first instance. The Mughals were Chaghta'i Turks and we know that, unlike them, the other Turkic rulers outside of Iran, such as the Ottomans in Turkey and the Uzbeks in Central Asia, were not so enthusiastic about Persian. Indeed, in India also, Persian did not appear to hold such dominance at the courts of the early Mughals. In his memoir, Babur (d. 1530), the founder of the Mughal empire in India, recounted the story of his exploits in Turkish. The Prince was a noted poet and writer of Turkish of his time, second only to ‘Ali Sheer Nawa’i (d. 1526). Turkish was the first language of his son and successor, Humayun (d. 1556), as well.
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Today, the religion of Islam is most distinctly characterized by the emphasis it places on the transcendence of God. ¹ God's otherness ( mukhālafa ), it is said, is presupposed in Islamic thinking from the Qurءan. ² A review of the history of dogmatic development in Islam reveals, however, that during the formative period—that is, the period to about 950 ³ —divine transcendence was only one alternative among several models attempting to explain God's unity. Indeed, it coexisted alongside its antithesis, “assimilation” ( tashbīh ), or as we term it, anthropomorphism. ⁴ Muslim and Western scholars agree that, although the anthropomorphist model certainly existed—the various heresiographies attest to it—it existed only on the margins of Islam, in the extravagant fancies of a few deviant doctors. ⁵ Thus, anthropomorphist ideas were relevant only marginally, if at all, to Islam's attempt at theological self-definition. Such, at least, is the current scholarly consensus. But how accurate is this reading of Islam's theological history?
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The article describes the important role played by Central Asia, especially Uzbekistan, in the history of medieval Islamic mathematics. It deals with the history of the manuscript and book collections of the Bukhara library and outlines the relevant research work on this subject that has been written in Russian by scholars of the former Soviet Union.Der Aufsatz beschreibt die wichtige Rolle, die Zentralasien, insbesondere Uzbekistan, für die Geschichte der mittelalterlichen islamischen Mathematik gespielt hat. Er behandelt die Geschichte der Handschriften- and Büchersammlungen der Bibliothek in Bukhara and umrei²t die bisher geleistete, auf Russisch verfa²te Forschungsarbeit von Autoren der früheren Sowjetunion.L'article décrit le rôle important d l'Asie centrale, en particulier de l'Ouzbékistan, dans l'histoire des mathématiques médiévales islamiques. Il traite de I'histoire de la collection des manuscrits et des livres de la bibliothéque de Boukhara et fait un tour d'horizon des recherches faites jusqu'á aujourd'hui par des auteurs russes de 1'ancienne U.R.S.S.
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The famous 15th-century Iranian mathematician and astronomer, Jamshı̄d al-Kāshı̄, left his native Kāshān for Samarkand in order to participate in the scientific activity there, upon Ulugh Beg's invitation. Al-Kāshı̄ corresponded in Persian with his father, who lived in Kāshān. One of his letters to his father was published and translated by Kennedy (1960) and Sayılı (1960). In this paper, we present an English translation with commentary of another letter of al-Kāshı̄ to his father, which has been found recently in Iran. Like the previous one, this new letter contains interesting information on Ulugh Beg's scientific circle in Samarkand.[FORMULA][FORMULA]
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Evidence from Chinese documents supports the hypothesis that Sogdians dominated Silk Road trade in East Turkestan during the seventh and eighth centuries. The merchants lived and/or traveled among a diaspora of Sogdians who settled in the oasis cities of the region and also practiced farming and handicraft making. Some traders traveled the entire distance between China and West Asia, but others operated along circumscribed routes that connected to the broader commercial network. Residents of the diaspora facilitated trade by acting as cultural intermediaries for unassimilated merchants. Le t moignage des documents chinois soutient lÕhypothse selon laquelle les Sogdiens dom-in rent le commerce sur la route de la soie pendant les VII e et VIII e sii cles. Les marchands habitt rent et/ou voyag rent parmi une diaspora de Sogdiens qui sÕ tablit autour des villes-oasis de la rr gion et exercrent lÕagriculture ainsi que lÕartisanat. Certaines marchands voyagrent sur toute la distance entre la Chine et lÕAsie occidentale, tandis que dÕautres travaill rent sur des chemins courts les relian un r seau commercial plus large. Les habitants de la dias-pora facilit rent ce commerce en leur qualit dÕinterm diaire culturels au service des marchands trangers.
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Early Muslims wrote extensively about human nature and called it Ilm-al Nafsiat or self-knowledge. In many cases, their works seem to be the original ideas for many modern day psychological theories and practices. What is interesting however is that a lot of what the early scholars wrote was blended with Islamic philosophy and religious ideas. This paper covers major contributions of prominent early Muslim scholars to psychology and outlines the challenges faced by today''s Muslims in adapting to the Western theories. It also offers a few recommendations on the indigenization of psychology for Muslim societies interested in seeking the Islamic perspective on human behaviors.
hanks to the pioneering studies of Paul Pelliot, Edwin Pulleyblank, Albert Dien, and Edward Schafer, it has been known for some time that Central Asian people and particularly the Sogdians played a prominent economic, social, and political role in China during the periods of the Northern Dynasties, the Sui and the early Tang. The work of these Sinologists based on Chinese literary records was gradually supplemented by Iranologists who deciphered Sogdian texts discovered in the Chinese territory, mostly in the Dunhuang cave and in various cult places in and near Turfan. These texts that form the bulk of the known Sogdian literature are mostly religious in their contents. Only a handful can be ascribed to the so-called Sogdian native religion, a form of Zoroastrianism, and in most cases this attribution is disputed. The majority of the Sogdian texts are Buddhist, translated not from the Indian original but from Chinese versions. Then come the Nestorian Christian texts. There are also a substantial number of Manichaean texts that were elucidated mainly by Walter Bruno Henning and Werner Sundermann and contributed greatly to the knowledge of this religion as a whole. Since the 1960s progress in Sogdian studies has come mostly from Sogdiana itself, today in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, with the publication of the political and administrative archives of the king of Panjikent found on Mount Mugh and dating from the period of the Arab conquest, and, more spectacularly, a very large number of mural paintings from four sites: Panjkent; Samarkand; Varakhsha, near Bukhara; and Shahristan. This resulted in a rather unbalanced picture, which lasted until a few years ago: the religious literature of the Sogdians came only from China, their archaeological records almost only from Sogdiana. Seen from China, the Sogdians appeared mostly as adherents and transmitters of the three great "salvation religions" of the time—Buddhism, Christianity, and Manichaeism—while in their homeland their art and religious buildings appeared fairly Iranian and conservatively Zoroastrian. In the 1990s a new turn was taken when funerary reliefs of Sogdian merchants buried in China appeared both on the antique market and in regular excavations. Six tombs safely attributable to Sogdians are now known, plus two others from Gansu, which are thematically related to the Sogdian tombs but might have belonged to representatives of other Central Asian peoples. All date from the last third of the sixth century. Three of the tomb owners are identified by funerary inscriptions that give them the title sabao, a Chinese administrative function designating the leader of a community of Western migrants and derived from the Sogdian word sârtpâw (caravan leader). In most tombs a majority of the panels illustrate the social activities of the deceased, in a rather conventional way. Trade is very discretely alluded to, with one exception, the tomb of Wirkak, which will be examined in detail in this article. The focus is always toward the aristocratic way of life, expressed by hunting and banqueting, in any possible contact situation: with fellow Sogdians, with other Central Asian peoples, with Northern Indians (Gandharis or Kashmiris), and with Turks. At the same time the wife is always shown dressed as a Chinese lady, sharing a Chinese pavilion with her husband. This kind of double Sogdian/Chinese social identity found its most extreme expression on the reliefs in a private collection, temporarily displayed in 2004–5 at the Guimet Museum in Paris (fig. 1). On one panel the deceased is shown in a Chinese park; his dignified stance derives from that of the bodhisattvas in the art of the Wei period. He is accompanied by Chinese symbols such as the crane, symbol of longevity, and the couple of ducks, symbol of marital happiness, and in fact the next panel shows his wife dressed in Chinese attire in a similarly Chinese setting. But on the following panel the deceased, recognizable from his beard and topknot, is drinking from a rhyton, an Iranian and Central Asian utensil, and he drinks heavily as he is about to fall. The attendants below are also drunk, while the lion lapping from a vase derives from Dionysiac motives in the Greco-Roman art...
Article
History of Political Economy 32.4 (2000) 857-888 My primary purpose in this article is to identify and present some parallels and similarities between the major economic ideas of two medieval Scholastics: Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali (1058–1111), “acclaimed as the greatest… certainly one of the greatest” (Watt 1963, vii) and “by general consent, the most important thinker of medieval Islam” (Bagley 1964, xv); and St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274), the most prominent of the European-Latin Schoolmen, “the Doctor Angelicus, the Princeps Scholasticorum” (Pribram 1983, 4), “perhaps the greatest Catholic philosopher of all time” (Newman, Gayer, and Spencer 1954, 16). Heretofore, some scholars of medieval history have explored similarities and links between Al-Ghazali and St. Thomas with reference to other dimensions of their discourses, but none has focused on their economic views. While this essay mainly discusses similarities in the economic ideas of the two Scholastics, more serious analysis might further corroborate the observations of historians as to links between the two in other areas of knowledge. Further, it might be noted that while Thomistic economic thought is well recognized in the literature, very little is known about the contributions of Al-Ghazali—one of several Arab-Islamic precursors of medieval Europe’s Latin Scholastics who wrote extensively on economic issues. Much of the economic thought of Arab-Islamic Scholastics belongs in the several centuries between the Greeks and St. Thomas Aquinas—a period unfortunately labeled as the “great gap” of “blank centuries” by the late Joseph Schumpeter (see Ghazanfar 1991, 1995). One finds detailed discussion of prevailing economic and social conditions and significant economic maxims, primarily normative but also with considerable positive content, in the writings of several Arab-Islamic writers. However, the main focus of these Scholastics, Arab-Islamic and Latin-Christian, was not the domain of economic aspects of life—economics remained merely an appendage to philosophy, ethics, and jurisprudence. One chiefly encounters theological-philosophical ratiocination in their treatises, and not economic content as we now know the subject. Within the religious-ethical system of Scholastic jurisprudence, which called for divine, scriptural prescriptions as guides to human affairs, the overriding assumption was always that all behavior, including economic activities, is teleological. Thus, economic thought emanating from medieval Scholastics, such as Al-Ghazali, St. Thomas, and others, was seldom elaborated in separate volumes; such a segmented treatment would have been hardly compatible with the prevailing emphasis on the unity of knowledge as a fundamental epistemological principle of scholarship. Indeed, such an approach prevailed in Europe up until the eighteenth century, when Adam Smith took charge of the chair of Moral Philosophy at Glasgow College (de Roover 1955, 162). The medieval Scholastics viewed economic matters as part of their larger concern for the common good and social justice. As a branch of ethics, economic relations were to be judged by rules of justice, as derived from the scriptures (Jewish, Christian, Islamic), that ought to preside over the distribution and exchange of scarce goods. One readily derives such insights from a cursory examination of the table of contents of Al-Ghazali’s Ihya Ulum al-Deen and St. Thomas’s Summa Theologica. However, while both gave a place to economic matters in their universal scheme, the pursuit of material welfare was not regarded as an end in itself, but as a means to achieve the summum bonum of salvation (see O’Brien 1920). Thus, as another objective of this essay, some evidence will be provided to demonstrate the considerable influence of Arab-Islamic Scholasticism, encompassing almost all endeavors of human intellect, on Latin Europe generally, but also to argue that such historical links were particularly substantial concerning St. Thomas Aquinas’s philosophical writings. This essay will also briefly note the sociocultural and intellectual context in which the scholarship of Al-Ghazali and St. Thomas evolved. This will be followed by a detailed discussion of the similarities between the economic views of both. The concluding section, after summarizing the article, will argue, without belittling the works...